Spring breakers reminded about deadly consequences of drinking

SOUTH PADRE ISLAND — Mauro Garcia peddled his way through an obstacle course.

He couldn’t make it around the path without hitting cones or running them over at every turn.

Garcia was wearing a mask that blurred his vision making it difficult to drive the small peddle car.

“It’s very different, you see multiple things and everything is very blurry,” Garcia said. “I’m definitely not going to drink and drive.”

That was the intended message yesterday.

TxDOT, along with the Rio Grande Valley Traffic Safety Coalition, area law enforcement and other traffic safety organizations, held the safe Spring Break event featuring the “Plan While You Can” interactive dodgeball experience, drunk driving simulation and walk the line test.

The event’s programming demonstrated how drinking alcohol can impair a driver’s reflexes and the consequences associated with drinking and driving.

TxDOT Public Information Officer Octavio Saenz said their four day campaign on the Island reached a lot of Spring Breakers from many states who participated in the challenges and were educated about the consequences of drunk driving.

“There has been a decrease in accidents involving drunk driving,” Saenz said. “Drunk drivers will pay over $17,000 in fines, court costs and the loss of driver’s license.”

During Spring Break 2016, there were 458 crashes in Texas involving young drivers under the influence of alcohol. Those crashes led to 15 fatalities and 33 serious injuries.

In an effort to reduce crashes and save lives among young drivers TxDOT continues it’s the “Plan While You Can” campaign.

The initiative urges drivers to plan ahead for a sober ride home by playing their interactive dodge ball game that shows the affects of alcohol on a driver’s reaction time.

“I didn’t do so well,” said Aaron Aviles, a Brownsville resident. “I kept getting worse after each drink and couldn’t dodge a ball.”

Aviles stood in front of a large screen TV and attempted to dodge beach balls thrown by a gangly computer avatar wearing a backwards cap and no shirt.

Aviles moved right and he moved left and he lifted his leg but the shadow he was controlling of himself couldn’t move fast enough to dodge the beach ball.

“It’s an effective tool to show people the effects of drinking,” Aviles said.